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Japan to raise prices of imported wheat by 19%

Christian Fernsby |
The prices of five major wheat brands imported by the Japanese government and sold to private milling companies will be raised by an average of 19 percent for the October-March period from the previous six months, according to the farm ministry.

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The move, which marks the sharpest price hike after the 30 percent jump in the April-September period of 2008, comes as international market prices have soared due to robust demand from China for livestock feed and poor production in North America caused by unfavorable weather, Mainichi reported.

The selling price, which is reviewed every six months by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, will increase to 61,820 yen ($562) per ton, exceeding 60,000 yen for the first time since the April-September period of 2015.

According to the ministry's calculations, the price hike will be passed on to consumers at a markup of 2.3 yen for a loaf of bread, 1.4 yen for a bowl of "udon" noodles, and 1 yen for a bowl of Chinese noodles. Soft flour for home use is expected to rise by 14.1 yen per kilogram.

Since flour mills usually hold about three months' worth of inventory, retail price increases will not hit consumers until around January next year, the ministry said.

The record price hike rate, logged in the April-September period of 2008, a year after the current calculation system was introduced, was attributed to economic development in China and India and an increase in global production of biofuel made from crops.

Of the five imported wheat brands, three are from the United States used to make bread, Chinese noodles, and confectionery, one from Canada to make bread, and one from Australia to make udon noodles.

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